One of the most understated features of ChromeOS is its ability to automatically connect to a compatible phone and share its internet connection in a feature called Instant Tethering. This feature currently only supports the Google Pixel line of phones but I was greeted to a pleasant surprise when I opened my Pixelbook at a train station and was greeted with a setup window for Instant Tethering on my Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
It is important to note that your mobile phone carrier MUST allow tethering on your mobile data plan, I have tested this on T-Mobile (On a T-Moble One Amped Plan) and can confirm it works but your mileage will vary based on carrier. You should also be running Google Play Services 14.9.99 and Android 7.1 or higher on your phone. Tethering may also consume a lot of data so please ensure you are on a data plan with enough data to suit your needs or you may incur overages. Furthermore this will drain your phone battery faster.
You will need to be on the “Dev” channel for this to work
Here are the instructions to get started
- Enable the “Instant Tethering” flag and restart your chromebook– chrome://flags/#instant-tethering
- Setup your phone under “Connected Devices”
- Disconnect from WiFi and you should be prompted to setup Instant Tethering
After you select “Connect”, you will see a prompt on your mobile phone. If your carrier disables tethering or if your data plan does not include tethering, you may receive an error when selecting “Continue”. This is only needed once so you can leave your phone in your pocket from this point on.
If all went well, you should now see your phone under “Connected Devices” in the settings menu. If you select your phone, you should see “Instant Tethering” selected.
You can now connect to your phone as if it were a wireless network. You do not need to manually enable tethering each time you wish to tether so feel free to leave your phone in your pocket or connected to a USB Battery Pack. You will even see your phone’s battery level under the wireless networking menu.